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Archive for the ‘Vet’ Category

On June 17 we all woke up like normal and started heading down the stairs, but I immediately realized something was wrong.  There is a sound that my dogs make as they race down the stairs.  It is familiar and one of those sounds you aren’t even aware you’re in tune with until it’s different.  The cadence was off.  The Golden was limping.

This wasn’t a minor limp.  This was a his paw was held up a foot off the ground and he wasn’t going to put it down for anything.  I inspected the leg, and the pad and found no obvious signs of injury.  So, since this was Sunday — off to the emergency vet we went.   We did a full blood panel (all good!), and x-rays.  Nothing obvious so we went home with anti-inflammatory medication to rest.

The next day it seemed worse, so off to our normal vet we went.  By this time it was obvious the ankle was swollen, and we went home with medication and knowing we were going for at least 10 days of crate rest.

Four days later right after he would eat or drink, he’d cough like a piece of food was stuck in his throat.  It was only right after he’d eat or drink.  And at this point he still wanted to eat or drink.  So, concerned that perhaps something was stuck we headed off for another vet visit.  More x-rays and an exam showed only that his throat was a bit red.  So more medications, including an antibiotic.  And then he stopped eating.  And his breathing got raspy.

Now let’s just jump ahead to all the good news — the Golden is fine.  He is back to his crazy, happy, ball chasing, play with me self!  Monday he got released from crate rest (thank goodness!!).  We are taking it slow, but he’s allowed to run and chase balls again!

So what happened?  Was the leg and and the throat related?  We never did a culture on what was going on — had he not improved in a given amount of time we were going to, but he improved.  I think it’s human nature to want answers!  We want to understand what happened.  And often why it happened, though sometimes that answer is much harder.  I have no answers.  Why was he limping — well his ankle was swollen.  Why was his ankle swollen?  No clue.  We can guess, and speculate, but that’s all it would be.  Why did his throat get all red and inflamed?  Again, no idea.  Is there a part of me that still wants to know?  Yes.  I like answers.  Especially clear cut, neat ones.

But I will most likely never know.  So I am reminding myself of what matters – he is fine.  He has healed.  He wants his ball!  And is eating dinner.  And wants to train.  This is what matters.

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Ever since we lost our last beagle, about two and a half years ago I started questioning veterinarians.  He was clearly sick.  The first words out of the vet’s mouth when she saw him was, “He has Lyme Disease.”  But then the SNAP test came back negative.  So she decided he must have ruptured a disc in his spine, and recommended crate rest and drugs.  I recall asking about x-rays, but was discouraged as the vet said it might not show up, the symptoms were all pointing to it and he was a beagle, who are prone to IVDD.

Two and a half years ago, I was not a good enough advocate for my dog.  Ten days later he was still clearly in pain, the medication was not causing an improvement.  I called back and asked more questions about Lyme Disease, only then when I directly asked was I told that false negatives on Lyme tests were “common.”  I asked if there was another test and again was discouraged from doing this by being told it would be several hundred dollars to run it.  The impression I was left with was that it was extremely costly, not worth it since they’d already “diagnosed” him and that they weren’t really interested in doing it.  But I knew my dog wasn’t getting better, so this time I followed up with another question.  I asked what the treatment for Lyme was, and if it would harm my dog if we put him on it.  Only three days later he was doing much better.  A few months later we lost him, and looking back I feel perhaps I still wasn’t being the best advocate for my dog I should have been, but I starting to learn.

So now I try to be a better advocate for my dog.  I research and read.  I have notebooks filled with information I’ve learned, and definitions for things I never studied having just a B.S. in English.  I study and talk with other dog owners, breeders and vets.  Things I took for granted years ago, now I know better (like the idea that you “must” vaccinate annually).  And I’m using that information to be a better partner in my dogs’ care.  Because of me and my pushing, my vet has now agreed to titer testing.  I’m helping educate him as I educate myself.  The other day when our first titer results came in his first words to me were “I’m going to give you a lot more information than I would another patient.”  I smiled. He knows I have questions, that I’m wanting to learn and do the best I can for my dogs with the information I have now.  He knows I won’t blindly follow his recommends, and takes the time to explain them.  Sometimes I’m amazed he puts up with me, other times I think he enjoys the challenge.

My blind faith in their recommendations is gone.  I now ask why.  I now work to understand, so that I’m not just taking someone else’s word for the fact that this is best for my dog.  Because I’m the only voice that dog has.

On the other hand, as I struggled through the research, and emails and phone calls with my vet, as I challenged his protocols and fought for what I feel is best for my dogs, my husband says to me, “Well, I’m sure you know what’s best.”

That kind of blind faith is overwhelming.  I can only hope that he’s right.  I have so much more to learn.

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Another Toy Mishap

Today I had to put my hand down the Golden’s throat.  And it almost worked.  He managed to swallow a toy whole.  Two swallows got it stuck in his throat, which is what prompted me to reach down his throat in an attempt to dislodge the toy.  I could feel it, but I was unable to get a good enough grip to pull it back out.  After my second attempt, he managed to swallow again moving it down past where I could reach, but also past where it was causing him any problems. He stood there and grinned up at me.

Then my concern turned from choking to blockage.  He’d swallowed the toy whole.  I called my vet and we discussed our options.  First we could wait and see if it passed through him.  The problem with this approach was what would happen if it didn’t.  It could cause a blockage, which would lead to surgery.  The other option was to induce vomiting.  At first my Vet wanted me to bring him in since there was a risk of him choking on the toy as he tried bringing it back up, but after discussing timing and such we realized I didn’t have time to get him there.  The Vet’s office was a good 35 minutes from my current location.  If we waited the toy could pass the point where vomiting would bring it up.  It had to be quick.

I loaded the Golden into the car and raced to the store.  They probably thought I was a mad woman as I walked in demanding to know where they kept what I needed.  I grabbed it, almost threw it at the cashier and yelled “credit” back over my shoulder after I swiped my card and headed toward the door with my prize.

I took the Golden to the grass right there at the store, and dosed him.  It did not take much, and the effect was rather quick.  Only there was no toy.  He vomited again.  Still no toy.  I began to fear I’d have to race him to the vet and called again, but luckily as I was being transferred back to the Vet it came out.

My question changed from “What do we do, it’s not working?” to “Now how do I soothe my poor boy’s stomach?”  He’s not real happy with this no dinner rule for tonight, but he’s getting plenty of water.

It was scary, and frightening.  And luckily it ended well.  I’ve been considering for some time putting together a Dog First Aid kit — one for home and one for the car.  It’s time to do it.

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Well, actually it’s his second, but his first time to my vet. The Golden went to the Vet with the Breeder, and was checked out with the whole litter when he was six weeks old. I was along for that trip, but today was his first visit to my Vet.

Only it wasn’t my Vet. My Vet was on vacation. He’s hired another Vet to work at the practice, but we’d yet to meet. I was kind of hoping my Vet had warned him about me. He hadn’t.

The new Vet seems nice, but you could almost watch him trying to flip switches in his brain as I didn’t give him the expected responses to his questions and immediately refused a vaccine he’d already had prepared before even meeting me. It was part of their puppy protocol. Not part of mine!

“But you know….”

“Yes, I do. But I also know….”

*Blink* *Recalculate.*

“We need to schedule….”

“No we don’t.”

“But…”

“Are you aware of this recent study…”

*Blink.* *Recalculate.*

In the end we had a really good conversation.

The Puppy did very well at the Vet’s office. We worked on our sits, downs, and stands while in the waiting area, and then in the exam room. We practiced “show teeth” which is his command to let someone examine his mouth, and had no problems with his ears being looked at.

All in all a successful visit!

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She can walk!

I realized I haven’t come out and stated that, though she’s been walking for several weeks now. Each day she seems to get stronger and be able to go farther. It’s been six weeks since the Beagle had her surgery. These six weeks have passed far differently than I envisioned when we watched them take her back to be operated on. I have a vivid imagination. Sometimes it’s not on my side. But in this case since I’d envisioned the worst, having the best happen has been fantastic.

The day after she came home from surgery she stood up. Four days later she was moving her back legs as we took her out with a sling to use the bathroom. Now we are up to 15 minute walks twice a day with no harness, plus an added 15 minutes on the water treadmill twice a week. We do balance exercises, and strength exercises. We’ve started working on cavaletti, and we’ve started heeling again!

We still have work to do. Strength to build. Balance to regain. But we are getting there. Now I just have to resist the urge I have to wrap her up in bubble wrap to keep her from injuring anything else! Especially since we know there may be more issues down the road.

The Beagle has been officially diagnosed with IVDD (Intervertebral disk disease). Beagles are predisposed to this disease. There is no cure. There is only management. In the Beagle’s case, she had an explosive episode, which alerted us to the degeneration and disease. We are aware there are issues in other discs, though only time will tell if they will cause problems. So management now is our main focus — this means lots of strength and balance training. Keeping our sweet girl at a healthy weight, and keeping her as active and as healthy as we know how.

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We had another physical therapy evaluation. The Beagle really is doing well, and getting very fed up with all this crate rest! She’s ready to take on the world! We are at the point of having to hold her back. She feels good and has a lot of mobility back, but she’ll need some work to get to 100%.

During this evaluation the Vet looked at the notes from the surgery and told us that she has calcification on the disc between T11 and T12. I was annoyed when we heard this since the surgeon hadn’t told us this. It wouldn’t have changed anything that we’ve been doing, and they did warn us that she could have more problems. But I would have liked this information, just being the type of person I am. What happened to the Beagle isn’t just an injury, it’s an injury due to a disease — IVDD. She has it. It’s not going to change. So we have to manage it, and do all we can to give her a full life while minimizing the risks of more damage and pain.

I asked this Vet about the Beagle’s Agility career. This Vet is very much a advocate of the idea that dog’s need a job. They need to be kept active and in shape, but even she feels Agility is off the table. Her whole spine wasn’t checked with the CT, but we know one has a problem. Other discs may too.

I thought I was ok with this. I thought we’d just set new goals and move forward, but I think that was overly optimistic of me. I am still saying goodbye to the dream, and mourning its loss.

Today I competed with the Labrador. At the last trial I bought two slip leads. One for the Labrador and one for the Beagle. I didn’t like the collar on the Labrador’s so today I requested the maker redo it with a new clasp. Once I got it back I realized I could have just used the one for the Beagle, since the odds are she won’t use it any time soon, if ever. It was a sad thought.

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When I got the Labrador my desire to have a well behaved large dog introduced me to a world I’d never dreamed of. I learned about Rally, Obedience, Flyball, Agility, Disc dogs and more. I began to compete with the Labrador and in the process began to have a little dream of competing with the Beagle.

I called the Breeder and asked to get another copy of her papers as we’d never registered her. He agreed, and then asked what we’d be competing in. When I told him Obedience, he laughed and said, “You realize she’s a beagle, right?” We’d taken the Beagle to one puppy class where the trainer their threw up her hands and said we’d never get the Beagle to heel.

But I’d met new people. People who believed I could do it and that the Beagle could do it, and so it began. We began training. The Beagle was learning to heel. She learned to jump on command. She ran through tunnels. We’d just started an Intermediate Obedience class to prepare for the CGC, and a Foundations for Agility course. Our hope was to debut in Rally Novice this Fall, but oh there was no limit to what we were going to show the world a Beagle could do!

And then on Sunday night she took a staggering step. Her back legs started to shake, and we knew something was wrong. Seriously wrong. An emergency trip to the Vet revealed a ruptured disc between L1 and L2. We tried a massive dose of steroids, with the hope that over night she’d improve and surgery could be avoided. Instead she deteriorated. By the morning she was dragging her back legs, and so off to the Vet School we went.

Beagle is out of surgery, and resting comfortably. Our prognosis currently is good. She has a 95% chance of recovering her ability to walk, but everyone says jumping is out of the question. Heeling, head up may be out of the question. No more agility. No advanced obedience. Possibly no Rally. 6 to 8 weeks of crate rest is ahead of us. I think the surgery is the easy part.

So now it’s time for new dreams. Dreams of snuggles on the couch, and light play sessions in the back yard. Dreams of seeing her walk again. Dreams of seeing her tail wag, and learning together about physical therapy. We’ve a new path set before us. The dreams are different, but together we’ll show everyone just how well a Beagle can recover.

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